Can you recall the last time your teen sought you out to give a hug or tell you about her day?
Last week, we barely managed to get ten words muttered from our daughter one morning over a hasty breakfast. Ten words!
Somewhere among her schedule of practices, school, work, and friends we have been put on the side-burner. So here we sit, desperate for a glance, nod, or bone thrown our way. All we want is to connect with our daughter–the one who used to gab nonstop at dinner, in the car, at school, and on the phone.
The one we thought would never stop talking.
When she turned fourteen, we finally got our peace and quiet. We were lost and unprepared for the silence. We always knew this day would come, but we imagined it would happen when she left for college–not in high school.
It felt as if our daughter deserted us, shelving us with her dolls and scratch-n-sniff sticker collection.
What were we supposed to do?
Closing The Gap
Our first instinct was to hover and question her. This created some very awkward family moments. After each question we asked, her instinct was to withdraw even more. This reaction only fueled our desire to ask more questions. Soon, we found ourselves in a vicious cycle.
Frustrations were peaking at an all time high when a friend mentioned that we should try using Social Media to stay in touch. Our wise friend made it sound like technology could be the perfect go-between in our relationship.
A relationship that we were losing.
With an estimated 94% of American teens having a Facebook page this made a lot of sense. Parents can reach out and bond in a neutral territory. Teens are already utilizing these social networks which can provide countless bonding opportunities.
Friend requesting teens on Social Media isn’t a novel idea. Researchers in Great Britain surveyed a group of 2,000 parents regarding their child’s Social Media use. About 16% of the parents questioned attempted this feat of befriending children.
Not surprisingly, a third were denied.
A Parent’s Survival Guide To Adding A Teen As A Friend
Parents may seek friending teens for a variety of reasons, but teens are not always receptive to the idea of mom and dad viewing profiles and posts. Teens are actively trying to define themselves as an individual and seek these answers outside of their family circles. To make the transition easier, bonding over Social Media might be the answer for many families.
Here are 8 survival tips to make the conversion to online friend:
- Don’t go overboard. Be selective with commenting or liking every photo. It just might be too much of a good thing and get you blocked by your teen.
- Beware of fake profiles. Many teens create multiple accounts. One is clean and appropriate- the perfect beard to please parents. The other accounts are used for more risky interactions.
- Use trending topics to start a dialogue. Use Social Media to listen to your teen and learn their perspectives on life, society, and epic fails.
- Have fun. Challenge your teen to the occasional game of Trivia Crack or a round of Words With Friends.
- Avoid adding all of their friends. If a friend of your child wants to be connected, let them initiate contact.
- Think before posting embarrassing photos or stories. Ponder the possible implications a #TBT picture might have on a teen’s confidence and social circle.
- Monitor a teen’s Internet and Social Media use. Be involved and know what sites or apps a teen is using. If needed, purchase an app that allows parents to view all activity in one convenient location.
- Send messages privately. Try to avoid publicly reminding them about orthodontist appointments or dirty undies on the bedroom floor.
As parents, we obviously loved the idea of friending our daughter online. We could easily monitor her online behaviors and have access to the selfies, posts, and friends list. It was a parent’s dream come true–until we realized she had turned our request down.
You can’t blame us for trying to friend our teen on Social Media. Many parents do find success with this method.
As for our relationship, it is starting to improve and we are actively seeking ways to remain involved in her life. We have even started making her favorite waffles for breakfast during the week. We just sit and talk with her over a good dose of Maple syrup.
It’s still undecided if the high sugar content or the extra effort deserve the credit, but she has been talking nonstop about the upcoming formal dance.
Amy Williams is a journalist based in Southern California. As a mother of two, she hopes to use her experience as a parent to help other parents raise their children to be the best that they can be.